Now that we are free to roam, we all have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to seeing the sights of Leeds. Of course, lockdown proved to be the perfect opportunity for significant architectural and design developments to be made across the city, and we’re sure you’ll agree that the city has well and truly received a refreshing new look since we had to put our city-roaming put on hold after Christmas.
With new pedestrianised areas, expanded green spaces and improved eco-friendly transport networks, the city is welcoming us all back with open arms, and we’re here to help you discover the new wonders of Leeds. Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Leeds’ offering of street art.
Arguably, one of the first things many of us have marvelled at on our return to the city centre is the abundance of vibrant artwork, graffiti and murals which have popped up all across Leeds during lockdown. Many of these pieces of joyous artwork are thanks to the work of the Our Spaces Strategy; launched in August last year by the council, the strategy sets out how public spaces in Leeds will be developed to be inclusive, welcoming, and vibrant, and this will remain at the forefront of future development proposals.
Working with local artists, the launch of the strategy saw media boxes across Leeds transformed into striking and colourful pieces of artwork. Each media box represents one of the 7 key principles of the strategy, which include people first, greener future, everyone welcome, better connected, economic sense, bring it to life and this is Leeds. These particular pieces of artwork can be found at various places across Leeds, including outside Kirkgate Market, outside the city bus station, at Quarry Hill, Boar Lane, Merrion Way, and more!
Over at Belgrave, new murals can be seen in their side street seating area on Merrion Place. Following the death of British-American rapper MF Doom in late 2020, a Leeds artist collective, Two Times, painted a tribute in celebration of his life and impact. The incredibly recognisable profile image of MF Doom can be seen above lyrics from the rapper’s song ‘Lickupon’, “There’s four sides to every story, if these walls could talk they’d probably still ignore me”. The collective behind the MF Doom mural, Two Times, was formed by Leeds artists Benjamin Craven and Edan MF.
Another addition to Belgrave’s seating area on Merrion Place is the mural painted by Leeds/Teesside artist James Rogan. The mural, which was created last summer reads ‘It’s all happenin’ at Belgrave’ and is painted in designs and colours which can only be likened to an afternoon drinking in the sun! Scaling half of the building in height, and collaging gaudy patterns and colours, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss this one!
Check these murals out here: Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP
Bus stop: Vicar Lane L – N Bound
At Hyde Park Corner, a sizeable mural dedicated to Leeds United Manager Marcelo Bielsa emerged in September last year. The black and white mural of Bielsa’s face was painted by the highly talented local stencil and mural artist Tank Petrol, and the painting was based off the original picture taken by photographer Justin Setters. The mural also includes the Leeds united badge, as well as a quote from the legend Bielsa himself, which reads “A man with new ideas is a madman, until his ideas triumph.”
You can marvel at this mural here: 265-267 Hyde Park Rd, Leeds LS6 1AG
Bus stop: Hyde Park Corner – NW Bound
Antony Burrill’s YOU&ME&ME&YOU is another new welcome addition to Leeds’ offerings of street art. The black and white painted mural, which spans across the entire side of Sparrow Wharf building on The Calls, was completed at the beginning of this year. Andy Burill said: “We wanted to make a recognisable landmark in Leeds that marked a particular moment and a particular time; especially over the past year where we have recognised the value of the relationships between yourself and your friends, your family, or the relationship between you and people you don’t know, and the simplicity of that connection.” Designed by Andy Burrill, the piece was curated by Laura Wellington at In Good Company, supported by King & Co., and installed by Bread Collective.
Find this mural here: 32 The Calls, Leeds LS2 7EW
Bus stop: Kirkgate High Court – W Bound
Also to be seen in The Calls, is the mural named “Paving the Way” by Manchester-based artist Akse P19. The mural was painted in honour of the Rocnation and Leeds United partnership, and features the club’s legends such as Albert Johanneson and Lucas Radebe, and at the front and centre of the wall is the current homegrown player Kalvin Phillips. Akse P19 has been painting murals since 1992, focusing on photo-realistic portraits over the past 15 years, he aspires to inspire the community through the people and places he paints.
Find this mural here: Leeds LS2 7DA
Bus stop: Kirkgate High Court – W Bound
Another of Akse P19’s incredible murals can be found at Leeds Beckett University; a tribute to Rugby League hero Rob Burrow. The portrait, which depicts Rob in action playing rugby for Leeds Rhinos, also includes a quote from Rob which reads “In a world full of adversity, we must dare to dream.”
Find this mural here: Leeds LS1 3HE
Bus stop: Civic H – NE Bound
Another tribute to Leeds United was painted in October 2019 by Yorkshire artist, and Otley resident Shane Green. The striking painting was created for the Leeds United Centenary, and spans across two end terraces on Tilbury Mount in Holbeck, just by the footbridge for the M621. Shane Green is a lifelong Leeds fan and said that he chose the area as he felt it was a “special location” as the majority of fans will see it as they walk to the hallowed ground of Elland Road on match days.
Find this mural here: Tilbury Mount, Holbeck, Leeds
Bus stop: Fairway Court – E Bound
Painted on the side of the bar and multi-use venue space that is Wharf Chambers, artist INSA’s graffiti-style mural steals the attention of the view across Leeds in its captivating patterns and astonishing colour gradient. The mural was painted not only as a new striking attraction in Leeds, but also as an experiment to see if it is possible to limit and track the carbon footprint caused by painting a mural of such scale. The mural was created in collaboration with Moniker.
Find this mural at: 23-25 Wharf St, Leeds LS2 7EQ
Bus stop: York Street (Stop F3) E Bound
Although a lot of new artwork has been installed over the course of the past year, we must of course mention some of the more long-standing pieces of street art which have helped to keep Leeds colourful for many years; starting with one of the harder-to-spot pieces. The city’s ‘Grey Heron’ mural is best seen from one of Leeds’ yellow water taxis; you will see this magnificent painting of, of course, an actual grey heron as you pass under the Centenary Bridge. However, your view of this mural is entirely based on the river’s water levels that particular day, as the Grey Heron is painted on the side of the bridge, and therefore disappears and reappears as the water levels rise and fall.
Hop on the water taxi here: Canal Wharf, Holbeck, Leeds LS11 5PS
Bus stop: Bridgewater Place Z4 – N Bound